28 April 2021

Yekaterinburg Candidates - Fourth Week

After waiting more than a year for the continuation of the 2020 Candidates Tournament, Yekaterinburg, the whole affair was over in a little over a week. Unfortunately for me, after last week's post Yekaterinburg Candidates - Third Week (April 2021), I didn't find the time to watch a single minute of the action. To compensate, I collected the following links from two of the most respected chess news sources.

Rd. Chess.com Chessbase.com
R08 Well-Prepared Caruana Moves Up As MVL Stumbles In Endgame Caruana impresses, wins marathon [with links to rds.1-7]
R09 Giri Strikes, Moves Into Second-Place Tie? Giri wins, climbs to shared second place
R10 Nepomniachtchi Wins Quickly, Increases Lead Nepomniachtchi widens the gap
R11 Giri Approaches Nepomniachtchi, MVL Stumbles Giri in sole second place after brilliant win
R12 Four Winners, Nepomniachtchi Maintains Lead Nepo wins to keep the lead as Giri beats Caruana
R13 Nepomniachtchi Wins FIDE Candidates Tournamen1 day Nepomniachtchi to challenge Carlsen for the World Championship title
R14 Three Winners In Final Round, Wang Hao Announces Retirement Ding, MVL and Alekseenko finish on a high note

Congratulations to GM Nepomniachtchi on a well deserved victory. Another article on Chess.com, published just before the second half of the tournament started, is worth noting: FIDE Candidates: Karjakin Names Nepomniachtchi As Most Difficult Opponent For Carlsen (Peter Doggers). Over the next few weeks, I'll add the finishing touches to my own online record of the event.

21 April 2021

Yekaterinburg Candidates - Third Week

In writing this post, I had two problems to solve. My first problem was what to title it. In the previous post, Yekaterinburg Candidates - Second Week (April 2020, a full year ago), I wrote,
This might become one of the shortest blog posts I've ever written. After last week's post, Yekaterinburg Candidates - First Week, there was no second week.

I decided to keep the title ordinally simple: First Week, Second Week, Third Week. Next week's post will be titled ... no prize for a correct guess.

My second problem was what to write about. The first round of the restarted second half finished yesterday, so there's not much new material to work with. Let's just say that the continuation of the event is finally underway -- there were no further postponements or delays. On top of that, all of the players arrived safely -- there were no last minute cancellations. Those points are both noteworthy, in and of themselves.

Once again, like for 'Second Week', that's not much of a post. Fortunately, I have a backup idea. A couple of weeks ago I received an email from Eric van Reem telling me that he had released a couple of podcasts about the Candidates tournament, with a third podcast on the way. Last year I became familiar with Eric's work thanks to my chess960 blog; see The Norwegian Connection (November 2020), for his two part chat with GM Jonathan Tisdall (which covers much more than chess960). The three more recent podcasts are well worth a listen:-

  • 2021-03-30 #26 Lennart Ootes, 'Let's talk about the Candidates Tournament and photography'
  • 2021-04-06 #27 Leontxo García, 'Let's talk about your escape from Yekaterinburg'
  • 2021-04-18 #28 Douglas Griffin, 'Let's talk about chess history' [with an emphasis on past candidates tournaments]

Each of those podcasts links to the full index of all 28 podcasts. That's guaranteed to provide some entertainment between rounds of the tournament. What will podcast #29 bring?

14 April 2021

1976 Arandjelovac Zonal Revisited

My index of zonal pages, The World Chess Championship : Zonals, follows a straightforward structure. Players in a zone assemble for a tournament, they play each other, and the winners qualify into an Interzonal. Repeat that sequence for as many zones as were authorized for a particular cycle.

Sometimes the evolution of a zonal is not so straightforward. One example is documented on my page (C05) 1960-1963 Zonal Cycle, where the zone two tournament at Berg en Dal was annulled and played again the following year at Marianske Lazne. The underlying reason had to do with Cold War Chess Politics (July 2015).

Another such cold war event involved two zonals, 1975 Barcelona & 1976 Arandjelovac (August 2014). I outlined the circumstances in that blog post, but there's more to the story. Vladica Andrejic of Perpetualcheck.com, sent me scans of the following clippings, which tell the tale of 1976 Arandjelovac.

Šahovski glasnik, 1976-09, p.305-306

I ran the scans through (1) an OCR to text converter, followed by (2) a language translator, and was pleased enough with the results that I'll incorporate them here. The article, written by V. Sokolov, is titled 'Supplementary Zone Tournament in Arandelovac'. The first two paragraphs [with some minor edits by me] say,

It is in Arandelovac at the time of 16. to 25. [April] o. g. held supplementary match-tournament of four grandmasters who for obvious reasons did not participate in the zonal tournament in Barcelona (Spain).

After many vicissitudes and months of negotiations on the route FIDE-SSJ ['ŠSJ' = 'Šahovski Savez Jugoslavije' = Yugoslavian Chess Federation] finally four grandmasters Uhlmann (DDR), Smejkal (CSSR), Adorjan (Hungary) and Velimirovic (Yugoslavia) got a chance to [be] subsequently included in interzone tournaments. It needed to be won the first two places, i.e. the last two are dropped.

The next eight paragraphs describe the evolution of the tournament, especially taken from the point of view of Velimirovic. Unfortunately for his Yugoslav fans, he had a poor tournament and finished last behind the other three players who finished tied for 1st-3rd. The next paragraph says,

So the tournament ended in a dead race. Three players found themselves in the first place and should have continued with a new two-round tournament. They have, however, opted for gambling, just like Parma and Liberzon. Such as it is known that the dice were not in favor of Adorjan, [so] Smejkal and Uhlmann were placed for interzone tournaments. It seems that it should not be applied gambling when it comes to such a serious matter as the World [Championship]. Yet it is in a sense chess degradation.

I added the crosstable shown in the clipping to the page (C10) 1975-1978 Zonal Cycle, then reorganized the page to clarify the different sequences of events. There are still some open questions involving the 'IZ Qualifiers', but perhaps 'Šahovski glasnik' will prove useful there as well.

07 April 2021

Viktor and Petra Korchnoi

A couple of recent reports from the mainstream chess press have their roots in a World Championship match from the 1970s. It's curious that all three title matches from the 1970s -- 1972, 1975 (unplayed), 1978 -- have achieved legendary status.

2021-03-23: 'The dirtiest chess match in history': Stean on Karpov-Korchnoi, 1978 (chess24.com; Colin McGourty)

The great Viktor Korchnoi, one of the strongest players never to become World Champion, would have turned 90 today. On the eve of that anniversary, the BBC dedicated an episode of the radio broadcast Witness History to the match that saw Viktor come within a win of claiming the World Championship title. The clash with Anatoly Karpov in Baguio City in the Philippines is described as "a surreal experience" by English Grandmaster Michael Stean, who turned 25 during the match and was working as a second for Viktor.

2021-03-19: Petra Korchnoi dies at 93 (chessbase.com; Frederic Friedel)

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Petra Korchnoi – Petronella Leeuwerik before her marriage to the two-fold World Championship Challenger. She was a remarkable personality and a great friend, and will be sorely missed.

More than 20 years ago I used database techniques to compile a summary of the many themes that occurred in the match: 1978 Karpov - Korchnoi Title Match : Yogurt, Parapsychology, Ananda Marga, ... (m-w.com). That analysis still holds up today.